LJ Interviews #18: Lew

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 07-14-2011 12:13 PM 4991 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 17: Patron Part 18 of LJ Interviews series Part 19: Purplev »

This interview, with Lew, is from the July 2011 issue of the LumberJocks’ eMag.


1. How did you first get started working with wood?
My first recollection of woodworking was playing with Lincoln Logs. The smell of those pieces and creating a structure seemed to satisfy something in me.
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2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
Making things has always been part of my mindset. At the end of the day, when there are visible, tangible results there is a feeling of great satisfaction. All three of my paying, lifetime jobs were working in areas where, at the end of the day, it was difficult to see any progress.

3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
At a very young age, my grandmother bought me plastic models. Taking all those pieces and ending up with a finished item was one of my happiest memories. As I got older, making things from wood seemed a natural progression. My grandfather had a workshop full of homemade power tools. He was always making or fixing things. He inspired me to take the Building Construction Vocational Course in high school. My destiny was to become a carpenter and build homes. The US Navy changed all that. When the Vietnam War started, I enlisted to be a Seabee. Turned out they need Electronics Technicians more than they needed carpenters. Using the Navy electronics training, I spent the next 36 years working in electronics and computers- 33 of those years were as a teacher in a Vocational School. Although it was not woodworking, it provided the income to buy tools and machines to pursue my hobby.
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4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
More and more it is the natural beauty of wood. The feel of the grain, the aroma when cut, the visible lines of its growth and the inclusion of the natural characteristics that nature created. For me, all these things add to the beauty of a project.

5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way?
Impatience!! Working in electronics and computers really destroyed with my perspective of time. My training taught me to think in nano seconds and everything happens instantly. This is a real paradox because teaching kids a new skill requires an infinite amount of patience. It was easy for me, in the classroom, to train those kids- repeating the steps as often as necessary to achieve success. However, when alone in the shop, there is a quick reverting to an “instant result” mentality. I must keep reminding myself that it is the journey and not the destination that provides the greatest pleasure- although I do not always listen.
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6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?
The greatest reward for me is seeing a completed project come together and used for its intended purpose. A recent project was for my brother-in-law’s church. It was nice to know someone thought enough of my abilities to trust me with that responsibility. Even nicer to know how pleased they were with the results.
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7. What is your favourite tool that you use for woodworking?
Maybe the lathe, but it is difficult to pick a single favorite. Right now, I am making more rolling pins. At first glance, these look like a lathe project, yet they require the use of just about every power tool in the shop. The real magic- when the Celtic Knot appears- happens on the lathe. The lathe does provide almost instant gratification and an outlet for more creativity than many of the other tools.
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8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?
We really like to cook and making items for the kitchen are my favorite projects. Pepper grinders, saltcellars, sugar bowls, cutting boards and rolling pins all add to the enjoyment of cooking. However, if you ask Mimi she would say it is her china closet. The first “real” piece made in my basement shop and the one cut in half to get it up the stairs. Another valuable lesson learned!
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9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Read, ask questions, and use the Internet for research. Each of us learns differently- some by reading, others by watching, and still others by simply trying it on their own. Lumberjocks has provided a source for just about every learning style. If you are having difficulty or just want to learn something new- it is here!

10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
It was by accident while searching for information on how to use a skew chisel. The site was is addictive. At first, it was easy to keep up with the projects and posts- commenting on most of them but now there are so many great projects, ideas and information just scanning new entries really keeps me busy.
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Thanks, Lew, for taking the time to do this interview!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

13 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3380 days

#1 posted 07-14-2011 01:44 PM

Lew, I totally enjoyed reading this interview and looking at your wonderful projects. It sounds like you have had an interesting life and I loved reading about it. You are a fine Lumberjock and I’m glad that I have gotten to know a little more about you.

MsDebbie, these interviews are great – keep ‘em coming.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3347 days

#2 posted 07-14-2011 01:53 PM

Can’t say any better :)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3434 days

#3 posted 07-14-2011 02:17 PM

Great interview Lew. It is so interesting to read about people’s roots in regard to woodworking and also reading of what continues to bring them back. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.

Sheila :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Ken90712's profile


17745 posts in 3702 days

#4 posted 07-14-2011 03:48 PM

Great interview, I have always liked looking at your projects as well. Some really fnatastic work!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3994 days

#5 posted 07-14-2011 03:57 PM

Another great interview MsDebbie.

Thanks for sharing your story Lew. Its nice to know more about you and the great work that you have done.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Hacksaw007's profile


619 posts in 3703 days

#6 posted 07-14-2011 09:27 PM

Thanks MsDebbie, Lew is the man! Oh the things that he can show us in woodworking! Would love to see a blog training on making the lovely rolling pins. Thanks both of you for sharing!


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4234 days

#7 posted 07-14-2011 09:28 PM

way to go Lew, Nice interview. Thanks for your service to our country!

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3817 days

#8 posted 07-14-2011 10:12 PM

its always wonderful for me to read of the path that led another great wood worker to where he is today…and i really enjoyed your story..youve made some wonderful wood items and anyone who has one of your rolling pins has a wonderful gift…and all of the other things you have made that either your family or friends have gotten…great story lew…your work inspires me …and so did your story…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Pimzedd's profile


623 posts in 4656 days

#9 posted 07-15-2011 09:12 PM

From one former Vocational School teacher to another, thanks for letting MsDebbie interview you. I know from some of your post on my projects how proud you are of your time teaching. I know that your students benefited from such a talented teacher.

Someday, I will be giving one of your rolling pins a try. Part 5 of your rolling pin blog was very helpful.

Keep up the interviews MsDebbie.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View lew's profile


12863 posts in 4269 days

#10 posted 07-16-2011 01:54 AM

Thanks, MsDebbie for the opportunity to be interviewed. I feel humbled to be included with so many great woodworkers, from whom I have learned so much.

Thanks everyone for all of the kind words. I truly appreciate them.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4591 days

#11 posted 07-22-2011 10:12 PM

so good to get to know another woodworker…great interview…

How did you put up with kids for 30 years? You are a true super hero! I think we need to double all teachers’ salaries…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View lew's profile


12863 posts in 4269 days

#12 posted 07-23-2011 02:25 AM

Thanks, Matt!! The first 15 were the most difficult after that- not so bad!!

Gotta agree on that teacher salary thing. You have to wear sooooo many hats with absolutely no support or “backup”.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4591 days

#13 posted 07-23-2011 06:01 AM

LOL…I was just teasing you…I loved learning more about you…but since I knew the teaching info I was trying to rib you a bit…of course I think I am ribbing myself a bit…


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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